1. We’re about to enter silly season (if we haven’t already) regarding the potential trade value for New England Patriots back-up QB Jimmy Garoppolo and I have a theory as to what’s going on. There are three teams that are really in the running for Garoppolo: The Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Chicago Bears.
Some say the Browns might be willing to trade the #12 overall pick for Garoppolo. Others think the Browns should give up the #1 overall pick for Garoppolo because the Bears or 49ers might be willing to give up the #3 and #2 overall pick, respectively. People from ESPN say that Garoppolo might fetch “a 1st and 4th round draft pick,” and others at ESPN say they are “not expecting [Garoppolo] to be traded.”
In other words, reports have all the bases covered. Garoppolo is definitely going to be traded, or he definitely won’t be traded. Got it.
There are two people saying that the Patriots won’t receive a first round pick, and this is important. ESPN’s Trent Dilfer says the Patriots won’t get a first round pick for Garoppolo, and Dilfer has notoriously close ties to the 49ers front office. Dilfer adds that the Patriots could get a second and third round draft pick Garoppolo, which is still a nice return especially since the 49ers are picking at the top of the round.
The other is CBS’s Jason La Canfora who believes “a package including multiple high second-round picks is quite possible” for the Bears. The Bears only have one second round pick (#36 overall), but maybe the Bears will make a draft day trade down to pick up an additional second rounder to flip both to the Patriots for Garoppolo.
What does all this mean? It means the Browns should be considered the rightful leader for Garoppolo with the #12 overall pick, while the 49ers and Bears are reluctant to give up more than a pair of day two draft picks (second and third rounders) for Garoppolo. Per the draft value chart, an early second and early third round draft pick combines to present the same value as a mid-first rounder.
So the current price for Garoppolo is a first round pick in the middle third of the first round. The Patriots are trying to squeeze more blood from the stone, but expect compensation of equal value to a mid-first round pick to be the cost for Garoppolo.
2. An alternative way to give the Patriots a mid-first round value is to swap first round picks, giving New England a top three pick and giving the 49ers or Bears the #32 overall selection. The Patriots would most likely also have to chip a day two pick to make the value work, but there are many ways for these three teams to make a swap happen.
3. Another edge for Cleveland and San Francisco is their fourth round compensatory draft picks. New England is already expected to receive the Browns third round compensatory draft pick (for losing C Alex Mack to the Atlanta Falcons in 2016 free agency) via the LB Jamie Collins trade, but the Browns and 49ers are projected to receive fourth round compensatory picks, too, according to OverTheCap.com.
The Browns traded away a fourth round compensatory draft pick (for losing FS Tashaun Gipson to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016 free agency) in the trade for the #2 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, but they are also set to receive an additional fourth round compensatory for losing OT Mitchell Schwartz to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 49ers should receive a fourth round compensatory for losing OG Alex Boone to the Minnesota Vikings.
Remember that the Patriots lose the earliest of their fourth round draft picks as penalty for DeflateGate; that is currently scheduled to be the Seattle Seahawks pick, acquired during the 2016 NFL Draft, and the 25th overall pick of the fourth round. Acquiring any fourth round pick prior to the Seahawks selection is just throwing away value because it will be stripped.
This is rather unfortunate for the Bears, which possess two fourth round picks in the top 10 of the round, which would be the very start of day three of the draft.
4. Patriots CB Cyrus Jones wrote a statement via Instagram expressing his disappointment over his rookie season, and continued his apology tour with an appearance in his home-state Maryland, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker. It turns out that Jones was dealing with a pretty serious mental hurdle that prevented him from feeling like he was a part of the team.
“I’ll never take credit for something I don't feel I contributed to,” Jones said about the Patriots Super Bowl victory. “I was part of the team, but I didn't feel a part of it. I honestly felt cursed. I reached a point where I didn't even want to play. I just didn't have it. Honestly, it was hell for me. That's the only way I can describe it. I didn't feel I deserved to be part of anything that was happening with the team. I felt embarrassed that these people probably thought they wasted a pick on me.”
Jones was benched after fumbling against the Baltimore Ravens in week 14 and allowing the Ravens back into the game. He played just one more game for the rest of the season and was inactive for the rest.
For Jones, a lot of disappointment came with his performance as a returner; he believed that he was playing well on defense, but it was his special teams struggles that prevented him from contributing on game day.
“What I did this year was not me," Jones said. “I don't care how anybody tries to sugarcoat it. Yes, I was a rookie. But I feel I should always be one of the best players on the field, no matter where I am.”
"But honestly, it pisses me off," he added. "You can say shut it [media] out or don't listen, but I know people are talking, and it's negative. I'm not a dumb guy. It definitely affects me. What it should do is piss me off in a way that I want to shut them all up."
“No such thing as an offseason for me. I didn't earn it.”
If Jones fixes his fumbling problem on the return game, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t rebound as a contributor in his sophomore season. Head coach Bill Belichick fixed the fumbling of RB Kevin Faulk in the past, so perhaps Jones will be the next project.
Jones is already working out at a facility in New Jersey, according to the Baltimore Sun. He’s not taking any time off this offseason.
5. The Patriots current cornerback depth chart, assuming CB Logan Ryan departs in free agency and both CB Malcolm Butler and CB Justin Coleman returns as an restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, respectively, is as follows:
1) Malcolm Butler; 2) Eric Rowe; 3) Jonathan Jones; 4) Cyrus Jones; 5) Justin Coleman.
Remember that Coleman was the #3 cornerback on the depth chart in 2015 after a series of injuries at the position. I would be surprised if the Patriots entered 2017 without adding a veteran body to the roster, particularly one that specializes in the slot.
There are a handful of players with slot and Patriots experience that are free agents, like Darius Butler, Robert McClain, Leonard Johnson, as well as some veterans like Leon Hall and Brandon Boykin that could be a fit. Perhaps an outside player like Sterling Moore or Marcus Cooper could be valuable depth, too.